Faculty’s concern on abuse Bill laid out to MSPs
MSPs face “an extremely difficult task” in bringing forward legislation to tackle psychological domestic abuse, the Faculty believes.
In evidence on behalf of the Faculty to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, Clare Connelly said that a substantial amount of international research had been carried out since domestic abuse used to be categorised as “wife-battering”.
It was now recognised that domestic abuse was much wider than physical violence, and that coercive control was the main feature of abuse, she added. It was to be distinguished from “common couple violence” where violence or aggressive language might be used when a dispute arose between the couple.
The committee is scrutinising the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill which seeks to introduce an offence of domestic abuse to cover physical and non-physical conduct. It would criminalise behaviours, such as depriving or controlling freedom of action, when it occurs against a background of coercive control.
Ms Connelly said: “Our concern is that some of the behaviours listed (in the Bill) could easily occur outwith a relationship that’s underpinned by coercive control, and without the context of coercive control being identified accurately, then it may become difficult to criminalise the behaviours the Bill seeks to criminalise. It may also be difficult to maintain public confidence in what Parliament is trying to achieve.
“It is an extremely difficult task you have before you…the Bill, to be successful, must be accompanied by a public and professional education programme. That is the best way to achieve a recognition of the distinction.”
The Faculty’s written evidence to the committee is here
See other associated responses at http://www.advocates.org.uk/media/1924/final-faculty-response-equally-safe.pdf
View the evidence session from 21 min at http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Archive/Index/27fb11df-8d28-4231-ba34-f38360307f0c?categoryId=14ea7629-492d-4dbb-ba15-2cf51895c791&parentCategoryClicked=False&pageNumber=1&orderByField=ScheduledStart&queryOrder=DESC